Sunday, 1 June 2014

Lunya - Liverpool

I decided to leave the confines of Manchester city centre for the evening and took a short train journey to visit Lunya in Liverpool. It sits just on the outskirts of the Liverpool One shopping centre and consists of a deli, restaurant and bar. The deli is absolutely jam packed with cheeses, wines, hams, pates and spanish beers and that's just scratching the surface - i've included a few photos down at the bottom to show off some of the range. The other half of the downstairs area of the restaurant features a bar along with a few smaller tables to enjoy food and upstairs is a large dining room area. It's a pretty much perfect setup and all fits together really well, they even have a seating area outside which is cracking if the rain ever lets up for a moment.  
The owners are clearly not short of ideas to keep the customers coming, hosting a regular series of special event nights such as suckling pig roasts, sherry tasting, ham carving and the 'Tastes of the Sea - Gourmet seafood night' which I attended on this visit. The concept for the evening was "a specially prepared gastronomic menu reflecting the influences of the sea in modern Spanish cuisine" with a "tour of the coastlines of Spain with a take on classics and some wonderful new recipes showcasing fabulous ingredients". They'd certainly set themselves one hell of a high target to hit with that brief.
This evening they had arranged two long banquet style tables against the far wall upstairs to keep everyone close together. This really helped aid the introducing of each course by the chef and owner of Lunya, Peter Kinsella who came across as exceptionally passionate about this style of food and the ingredients he'd hand selected for this menu. It was great to listen to him set the scene and then watch him scurry back into the kitchen to get on with the cooking. Each course was also accompanied by a glass of wine which is always a pleasure, each drink was introduced with a brief history lesson and an explanation as to why it'd be chosen at that stage of the meal and how it would compliment the course to follow.
"Potted Southport bay shrimp, Catalan style" - An excellent starter of potted Southport bay shrimp, main flavours of Paprika and mace. A lovely slightly gritty fatty topping with bread to dig into the potted shrimp with. It was my first taste of mace (to my knowledge) and the comparison to nutmeg definitely made sense, it added a gentle warming sensation to the dish.
"A taste of Galicia; Percebes (Gooseneck barnacles), samphire salad" - Certainly one of the strangest things i've ever eaten and a nightmare to try and describe, it was essentially a tiny stretchy tube stuffed with seawater attached to a piece of rock on one end and what looked like a dinosaur claw at the other. The chef introduced this dish advising that they're one of the most expensive ingredients he buys as human life is literally at risk due to the specific areas they can be harvested and the danger the collectors have to go through. To get into the 'meat' of the dish, I had to twist the rock from the bottom and then separate the mussel from the claw section. The tube had seawater trapped inside meaning I was getting sprayed with seawater by complete strangers, it was completely unavoidable and a lot of fun - a great talking point. The barnacle itself was delicious, a tiny very chewy piece of seafood - the water they were trapped inside had infused them with a rich salty flavour. Almost completely unique, I was left absolutely wanting more. The Percebes were accompanied with an enjoyable little side of samphire, a well seasoned bit of bulk to add to the satisfying but not filling main event.
"King prawn & mussel ravioli with langoustine bisque" - This dish consisted of a single generously sized ravioli, the twist here was that no pasta was involved as it was entirely made of prawn which had been crushed together to form an outer layer which was stuffed with seasoned mussels and a hint of tomato. Another extremely fun course and something i'd not experienced before, the prawn outer was as similarly filling as pasta but with a really meaty prawn texture. Another dish that I could've eaten a tray of and feel like I couldn't possibly have gotten bored. The giant battered langoustine and bisque would have been highlights on many menus but were completely overshadowed by the raviloi. Another fantastic plate of food.
"Crayfish, Palamos prawn and lobster fideua" - Fideua, which was introduced as another traditional Catalan dish, this was essentially paella but in this case made with Angel hair pasta instead of the traditional rice. Crayfish and lobster were cooked through the Fideua in crab stock giving it an exceptionally sweet and rich seafood flavour and it came served with a huge naturally red Palamos prawn, the background story was that these were another rare treat, this time harvested from the ocean shelf 5km off Costa Brava. A huge dollop of Alioi which certainly didn't go easy on the garlic (in a good way) mixed into the pasta to make everything lovely and creamy.
"Chocolate ganache torte with salted caramel sauce" - A delicious dark chocolate ganache torte was served as dessert, when done correctly a tart like this can be a thing of astonishing beauty and this torte was taking no prisoners. I was expecting it to have a salted caramel layer hidden away somewhere but this was actually dotted around the outside of the plate, it pulled no punches on the salt either, very much to my taste and a perfect end to the meal.

I had to rush for the last train back to Manchester so unfortunately didn't get chance to fill a shopping bag in the deli but i'll be back. I've got a dream day in Liverpool starting to line itself up - Baltic Bake, Camp and Furnace, onto Bold Street Coffee and then Lunya for an evening meal and a bag of treats would be one hell of a day. 

They do these nights every few months and they are definitely very highly recommended.
Lunya on Urbanspoon

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